How To Bring A Vintage Cinematic Look To Modern Digital Images

K&F Concept Black Diffusion Filters

Can a simple filter help you make your digital images look and feel more cinematic? The answer is yes. K&F CONCEPT offers a range of Black Diffusion filters (sometimes referred to as “Black Mist”), which have small particles embedded in the glass to diffuse the light and create a soft, glowing, fog-like effect.

This series of filters can create a soft glow or “orton” effect in bright and backlit conditions, and disperse colors and smooth out contrast in normal and neutral lighting scenarios, giving your images a cinematic look and feel.

Full Disclosure: This sponsored story is brought to you by K&F CONCEPT.

K&F CONCEPT focuses on the manufacture of photo and video cameras and accessories and has over 150 patents for these products. At present, the company’s equipment is sold in 56 countries and regions with over 260 business partners and is one of Amazon’s top best-sellers. The company says it develops, designs and manufactures a full range of award-winning camera gear, including tripods, backpacks, lens adapters, filters and more.

These Black Diffusion filters are often used by creatives who want to create a calmer, nostalgic, and softer look. They can provide a smooth analog feel that would otherwise require shooting on older film. Black Diffusion filters use small particles to capture and disperse incoming light, reducing overall contrast and adding a soft glow to the highlights of your images. They can even help soften the sun (and resulting lens flare) and give pictures a vintage look.

K&F CONCEPT Black diffusion filter
The full 1-stage filter may look dirty/dusty, but that’s how it should look.

The reduced clarity and sharpness can help soften the details of your subject’s skin as well as their clothing, effectively reducing wrinkles, creases and even blemishes, while preserving important details such as the clarity of the subject’s eyes and hair. Additionally, it should be noted that these filters do not affect the white balance of the image or add color casts outside of what is captured manually. Instead, these filters create a softer atmosphere for the scene.

What’s the point?

There are dozens of reasons to use such a filter for your photo or video projects. Primarily if you want your image to be softer and the highlights reduced, this is the filter type to go for. Old-schoolers might tell you stories about using a UV filter and some petroleum jelly or hairspray to achieve a similar look, or even DIY stretching some nylon or plastic over the lens. Luckily, the price of these filters is impressively cheap (ranging from $30 to $65), making it easy to have the real thing on hand when you need it and ensure images are consistent from shot to shot, something you can’t count on with a DIYer really can rely solution.


K&F Black Diffusion Filters at Sunset (Portrait)

The K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion filters deliver a consistently smooth result every time, allowing the user to decide which intensity level is right for their shot. In general, I used the 1/8th and 1/4th intensity filters in my portrait work, which allowed me to get sharp images with softer skin and a subtle glow in the highlights to create an almost ethereal look.

Obviously, this look is enhanced when you shoot wide open to give an almost dreamlike feel to the images captured. Shooting at an aperture of f/5.6 to f/11 (and higher) reduces the “dreamy” look, but still gives you impressively soft-focused highlights.

Some will argue that using these types of creative filters reduces the quality of your images by reducing sharpness and contrast, but sometimes just looks feels To the right. With special effects filters like these, users are given a creative/analog feel that works incredibly well with some images. It’s not something you’d leave permanently on your lenses, but it’s definitely worth keeping in your bag to have on hand at all times.

Below is a series showing what each level of black diffusion can do:

1-K&F Black Diffusion Filter No filter
No filter
2-K&F black diffusion filter 1:8
K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filter 1/8
3-K&F black diffusion filter 1:4
K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filter 1/4
4-K&F black diffusion filter 1:2
K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filter 1/2
5-K&F black diffusion filter 1:1
K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filter 1/1

Design and build quality

K&F CONCEPT Black diffusion filters

The black diffusion filters (available in 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 – full intensity variants) are made from aircraft grade aluminum alloy with rigid grooves on the edges for an easy grip when attaching and removing them from your lens. The waterproof filters are made of Japanese AGC glass with 28 layers of multi-coating for extra scratch resistance, and the anti-reflective coating effectively reduces the chance of ghosting in the images. Each filter comes in a hard plastic case with rubber grips on the inside to prevent shaking, scratching and shock damage in transit.

The non-slip and ultra-flat CNC frame measures only 3.3 millimeters and avoids vignetting and dark corners with wide-angle or telephoto lenses. Additionally, users can stack these filters with other filters such as an ND or CPL filter, allowing for even more creative freedom.

Additional images taken with the black diffusion filters from K&F CONCEPT

Are the black diffusion filters from K&F CONCEPT worth it?

To be honest, I was rightly surprised by the K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion filters. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when they first sent these to me to test, but after using them on a couple of shoots I really started to love them. I initially thought that the dusty appearance of the filters would actually affect the quality of the images captured, but instead the filters seem to do exactly what they describe and no more.

So yeah, I think these filters are really worth it. Lenses that already have great and pronounced bokeh wide open will have even more flare with these filters, and even if you’re not shooting super flat, the diffusion will add a nostalgic, film-like feel to everything you shoot.

For the most part I’ve stuck with the 1/8 and 1/4 intensities (see the portraits above) but there’s a use case for everything and I’m sure I’ll find another reason to pull out the 1/ 2 and full strength filters coming soon in another project. While the diffusion filters aren’t for everyone, they create a warming aesthetic that can soften an image and make a digital image look a little less “digital.”

The K&F CONCEPT Black Diffusion Filters range in size from 37mm to 82mm and are available for $30.99 to $63.99 per filter depending on the size and density of the nebula. In addition, the filters will be available in a Prime Day sale on October 11th and 12th.

Full Disclosure: K&F CONCEPT presents this story to you.

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